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Dinner by the Art Institute tonight!

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Hi, there may have been similar discussions on this, but I am short on time as it is a work day and need some quick advice. So feel free to just post me a link to another discussion :) Anyway, a good friend is back in town and we are going to see the Hopper exhibit this evening at the Art Institute. We wanted to get dinner/drinks after, to start a fun girl's night out. We want to go somewhere hip/trendy but not spend a fortune - $20 per person not including drinks (note: I'm vegetarian). We could potentially split up the drinks and dinner if there is a combination close by that would work. A quick skim through some discussions has turned up Frontera Grill, Atwood Cafe, and Park Grill, but I'm not clear on the vibe or atmosphere. Any recommendations would be great. Thanks!

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  1. Last night four of us went to the Gage at 24 S. Michigan, a stone's throw from the Art Institute after visiting the Institute. The dinner was GREAT! It is all what you want other than the dinner price could be steep however, their appetizers, soup and salads were wonderful and they did have some very reasonable dinners. If nothing else you should walk over there and check it out. The bar area is always busy and they have a really nice wine by the glass list. The bottles were very reasonable and the glass pours are 8 oz which is sizable. Don

    1. Frontera Grill is not near the AI (it's maybe a mile northwest). The atmosphere qualifies, though. In terms of atmosphere, think of the Atwood Cafe as a classy coffee shop in an upscale hotel, maybe not exactly what you're looking for. Park Grill is a bit closer (in distance as well as atmosphere), but an even better pick for what you're looking for is The Gage, a gastropub a block north of the AI. www.thegagechicago.com

      EDIT - I see dlpens and I were both typing in the same suggestion at the same time - LOL! Anyway, as far as the pricing, you can view the Gage's menu on their website and see if it fits your needs. (You'll notice that it includes some vegetarian selections.)

      1. Frontera really isn't close to the Art Institute.

        The Gage is good - but being vegetarian, your options will be limited.

        As soon as I read this, Russian Tea Time came to mind. http://www.russianteatime.com/
        It's on 77 East Adams, literally across the street from the Art Institute. Check out the menu - lots of vegetarian options.

        Somewhat pricier is next to that, Rhapsody. http://www.rhapsodychicago.com/ That's 65 East Adams. They have a great vegetarian plate, but it's $22 - and all meat entrees are closer to $30.

        I don't know if these qualify as hip and trendy (I'm thinking probably not), but the food is great and the atmospheres of both places are nice.

        You definitely will want to get a reservation or go after 7:30 to places in the area as there's a CSO concert tonight.

        1. The problem is finding hip/trendy in the Loop... :)

          I'd say, take a cab up to River North. Frontera would be fun, but you would probably spend more than $20/person on food. Maybe Quartino (corner of State and Ontario)? I think you'd stay within your budget, the atmosphere would be fun, and there are plenty of vegetarian options for you.
          http://www.quartinochicago.com/menu/q...

          4 Replies
          1. re: Amata

            Russin Tea Time is the best in terms of vegetarian options. It's got a huge array. However, it is not hip/trendy in the slightest. Park Grille has a bit more atmosphere, and I've found the food to be much better than it has to be given the location. The only place that really qualifies that is near the AI is the Gage. However, you may already have a difficult time getting a reservation. The excellent food and perfect location have made for a hit.

            By the way, your ticket will get you into both the Hopper and Winslow Home exhibits, which are right next to each other. Both are very worthwhile.

            1. re: jjo

              Ok, I have made reservations at the Gage. Thanks so much! I should have asked this along with my first question - but I am also going to the MCA tomorrow night, with a group of mostly vegetarians. We wanted to get dinner and then go out after - something interesting or unique would be great. One friend is considering a move to Chicago so I want to show her some fun qualities. Any recs for that?

              1. re: velvetdc1

                Puck's in the MCA itself is an easy but fairly pedestrian choice. NoMi at the intersection of Chicago and Michigan Avenues is a good choice with a dramatic view of the Mag Mile. Good luck getting a reserv, though. $$$$. Mity Nice Grill and Food Life in Water Tower place are a lot lower end with lots of vege options. No view, however. To say that FL is a glorified food court does not do it justice. Plus there's the great shopping in Water Tower place after you eat (if anything's still open by then.) MN Grill is a sit-down place that's a little more upscale. Signature Room at the top of the Hancock is strictly for tourists and the view. Rl or Tru are in the vicinity but back up in the $$$ and $$$$ categories.

                1. re: velvetdc1

                  The Museum of Contemporary Art is located just off Michigan Avenue near the Water Tower. Fun places not too far from the MCA, not too expensive, and with vegetarian options, include:

                  Giordano's (stuffed deep-dish pizza) - www.giordanos.com (Rush St location)
                  Gino's East (deep-dish pan pizza) - www.ginoseast.com (Superior St location)
                  Cafe Iberico (tapas) - www.cafeiberico.com
                  Coco Pazzo Cafe (Italian) - www.cocopazzocafe.com
                  Quartino (Italian small plates) - www.quartinochicago.com

                  Frontera Grill is a few blocks further than these, but also worth considering. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants

                  All of these should fit roughly in the $20/person criterion you previously mentioned. Quartino and Coco Pazzo Cafe accept reservations on opentable.com while the others mentioned here do not accept reservations.